Finely colored chromolithographic example of the the earliest known map focused on the general lines of the Southern Pacific Railroad, published more than a year before the line was completed through the Los Angeles.
Rare promotional map for the Southern Pacific Railroad, showing its connections from Southern California to the San Francisco Bay area, pre-dating the opening of the completed route from Los Angeles to San Francisco on September 5, 1876.
The map shows the existing routes and routes under construction, with connecting lines of other railroads shown in a solid red line. While not specifically labeled, the dotted lines are the proposed routes of other rail road lines under construction. The map also shows in green the wide swath of land given to various railroads as an incentive to establish rail service through these regions.
The map is of the utmost rarity. OCLC lists a single copy in the collection of UC Santa Barbara. The Huntington holds an 1877 Broadside published in Omaha which includes this map as in inset.
The credit on this map is to F.T. Newbery, who prepared several other maps for the Union Pacific in the 1880s. Other items published by Newbery were credited by OCLC as having been published in Omaha and San Francisco.
GW & CB Colton also issued a map of the lines of the Southern Pacific in mid-1875 (Modelski 567).
The Southern Pacific Railroad
In 1865, a group of businessmen in San Francisco, California, led by Timothy Phelps, founded the Southern Pacific Railroad to build a rail connection between San Francisco and San Diego. In September 1868, Charles Crocker, Leland Stanford, Mark Hopkins and Collis Huntington purchased the SPRR and merged it with the CPRR. In November 8, 1874, the SPRR tracks had reached Bakersfield and work was commenced on the Tehachapi Loop. By September 5, 1876, the first train from San Francisco arrived in Los Angeles, California after traveling over the newly completed Tehachapi Loop. It would be another year before the line reached Yuma, Arizona, as noted on the map.
The controlling members of the Southern Pacific had varying interests in the development of the line to the south. Leland Stanford wanted the line to extend to Los Angeles, with a terminus in Santa Monica, and even built a huge Railroad pier to accomodate it arrival. Stanford pressured Crocker and others for that outcome. Crocker’s interests were San Francisco based and centered around the Central Pacific and the Transcontinental route. The USPRR had proposed a line that was over Warners Pass and ended about mid way between San Diego and Los Angeles with spurs in either direction. Crocker and Stanford killed the plan and redrew the line so it went from Yuma up the line through Palm Springs etc, cutting off San Diego.
The arrival of the Southern Pacific Railroad in Southern California marked the beginnings of the first modern booms for Los Angeles and environs. Over the course of the next 50 years, Southern California would develop from a sparsely populated California backwater to a booming metropolis. Los Angeles alone would grow from from 5,730 residents in 1870 and 11,200 residents in 1880 to 50,400 (1890), 102,500 (1900), 319,200 (1910), 576,700 (1920) and 1,238,048 (1930).